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Go Easy On Me, I'm An Old Man (BCC)


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Brrrrrrrring. Brrrrrrrrrrring.

Hello, Hartlepool United Football Club, can I help you?

Hello.

Hello. This is Hartlepool United Football Club. How can I help you?

Oh, hello. Can I speak to the manager please.

Speaking.

You're the manager?

Yes.

But you just answered the phone. Are you messing about?

No, this is part of my job. It were different in the old days I tell you.

Are you Brian Clough?

Yes.

Oh.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

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Brrrrrrrring. Brrrrrrrrrrring.

Hello, Hartlepool United Football Club, can I help you?

Hello.

Hello. This is Hartlepool United Football Club. How can I help you?

Oh, hello. Can I speak to the manager please.

Speaking.

You're the manager?

Yes.

But you just answered the phone. Are you messing about?

No, this is part of my job. It were different in the old days I tell you.

Are you Brian Clough?

Yes.

Oh.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

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Just then Ken Hodcroft, chairman of Hartlepool, walked in.

Who are you and why are you answering the phone?

I'm Brian Clough, I'm the new manager here.

Erm, we have a manager, we're all very pleased with Neale Cooper's performance here.

I'm Brian Clough.

Rightio, and I'm the toothfairy. Get out.

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Clough continued to stare at Hodcroft.

OK then, you can be manager, but you have to tell Neale.

Done.

Right then. OK. So. Good luck.

Hodcroft went into his office and returned with a kitbag stuffed full of what appeared to be money.

Bye.

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Brian set about personalising the club as he once had. Instead of the youthful vibrant club that Cooper was cultivating, Clough stripped away anything promising, selling Adam Boyd to Real Sociedad for £95,000 in a key example. He was building a team in his own image, grey, arrogant, senile and overrated.

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An Accidental Goalscorer

Brian spent much time deciding who the least interesting signings possibly could be. The Scottish league seemed a good place to start and nobodies like St Johnstone's Paul Bernard, Ayr's Craig Conway and Gareth Wardlaw, Queen's Park's Stephen Canning, Ross County's Steven McGarry and Forfar's Grant Lawson on loan were added.

Loan signings were another way to get players nobody else wanted, not even the team paying them. Arsenal's Seb Larsson, Villa's Stephen Cooke, Sunderland's Ben Alnwick and Chris Brown and most spectacularly Weymouth's Chukki Eribenne were added.

That wasn't quite dull enough, no siree. Oldham's Ashlew Winn and Grimsby's Graham Hockless were so uninspired that the local press didn't even report the additions and paying money for Gillingham's Tommy Johnson was risible. Other boring players like Eoin Jess of Forest, Liam Burns of Bristol Rovers, Steve Jenkins of Peterbrough and freebies Matthew Turner, Lee Briscoe and David Perpetuini came in. One marginally interesting player also signed, but even the most optimistic fan suspected former Kyiv Dinamo and Arsenal man Oleg Luzhnyi was past his best.

Still, it was McGarry, of all people, who surprised pundits and fans alike when he finally got his chance in November with four goals in his first three starts, passing the laughable two managed by Boyd in his whole spell as the starter. Mark Tinkler was the other revelation on the goalscoring front with five to that point of the season despite missing a month to injury and being a defensive midfield player. It was as well he was a very boring player otherwise or his place may have been at stake.

With Clough winning second prize in the November manager of the month stakes he spoke briefly to the press.

When you play Monopoly sometimes you turn over a card that says, "You win Second Prize in a Beauty Contest, collect Ten Pounds". This is much like that, except I'm not beautiful and i didn't get ten pounds.

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A good finish

Clough sighed. He had hoped for so much more, but at his age the old timing was out. Winning the last nine games of the season had been insufficient and there would be no playoffs, no promotion for Hartlepool this year. So a number of players were sold, the old recruiting magic was put in place and for some reason a number of international stars failed to realise that not only was Brian likely to drive them insane with coachspeak and old-style drivel, but that they would have to play in League One and move to Hartlepool. What a to-do. Brian Clough had his own take:

It's like this, when you kidnap a man's wife he'll do whatever you say.

Nobody chose to take him literally.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | C | Sheff Wed | | 46 | 29 | 10 | 7 | 89 | 36 | +53 | 97 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | P | Tranmere | | 46 | 27 | 10 | 9 | 90 | 53 | +37 | 91 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Oldham | | 46 | 22 | 17 | 7 | 55 | 28 | +27 | 83 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Doncaster | | 46 | 23 | 11 | 12 | 80 | 53 | +27 | 80 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | P | Hull | | 46 | 22 | 11 | 13 | 66 | 46 | +20 | 77 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Chesterfield | | 46 | 20 | 15 | 11 | 60 | 48 | +12 | 75 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Bristol C | | 46 | 20 | 13 | 13 | 67 | 52 | +15 | 73 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th |Cloughie| Hartlepool | | 46 | 19 | 11 | 16 | 95 | 53 | +42 | 68 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Swindon | | 46 | 17 | 17 | 12 | 65 | 50 | +15 | 68 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Stockport | | 46 | 19 | 10 | 17 | 68 | 55 | +13 | 67 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Colchester | | 46 | 16 | 16 | 14 | 68 | 73 | -5 | 64 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Torquay | | 46 | 15 | 12 | 19 | 76 | 80 | -4 | 57 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Peterborough | | 46 | 16 | 9 | 21 | 59 | 81 | -22 | 57 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Blackpool | | 46 | 15 | 11 | 20 | 52 | 53 | -1 | 56 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Brentford | | 46 | 13 | 15 | 18 | 65 | 80 | -15 | 54 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Bournemouth | | 46 | 13 | 14 | 19 | 62 | 74 | -12 | 53 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Walsall | | 46 | 12 | 17 | 17 | 51 | 63 | -12 | 53 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | MK Dons | | 46 | 12 | 16 | 18 | 36 | 50 | -14 | 52 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Bradford City | | 46 | 13 | 11 | 22 | 66 | 80 | -14 | 50 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Luton | | 46 | 13 | 11 | 22 | 53 | 81 | -28 | 50 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | R | Port Vale | | 46 | 13 | 9 | 24 | 57 | 82 | -25 | 48 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | R | Barnsley | | 46 | 12 | 11 | 23 | 50 | 94 | -44 | 47 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | R | Wrexham | | 46 | 12 | 9 | 25 | 48 | 81 | -33 | 45 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | R | Huddersfield | | 46 | 6 | 20 | 20 | 46 | 78 | -32 | 38 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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New Squad for a New Season

Goalkeepers:

Graham Stack - Young man signed on his release from Arsenal so Brian would have an extra person to call "young man".

Shaka Hislop - Keeper let go by Portsmouth was snapped up for no fee.

Defenders:

Oleg Luzhnyi - Veteran was solid in the second half of last season.

Jamie McQuilken - Scot has taken over the captaincy.

Chris Westwood - Capable short-term deputy.

Tony Vidmar - Signed on a free to compete across the back line.

Jon Otsemobor - Young man added on a free transfer from Liverpool where he failed to break through.

Peter Ramage - Released by Newcastle, a new life in professional football for the young man.

Marc Smyth - Young Scot keen to continue his footballing education in Hartlepool.

Brian Barry-Murphy - Former Bury fullback signed to play on the left.

Andy Impey - Veteran former Forest man is a right back by trade.

Ronnie Wallwork - Formerly of Manchester United, so bound to rule completely and utterly. Or not.

Midfielders@

Jacob Burns - Barnsley star poached when contract expired.

Mark Tinkler - A mainstay throughout last term.

Graham Hockless - A major attacking threat.

Benjamin Collett - Released by Manchester United. Bound to come in handy.

Khalilou Fadiga - Former Bolton man is bound to prove useful providing his heart can take the strain.

Grant Johnson - Scottish veteran proved a triumph last year.

Forwards:

Dario Hubner - Old Italian hoping he won't have to run around much.

Gabriel Batistuta - Old Argentine hoping he won't have to run around much.

Glynn Hurst - Former Ayr United superstar.

Dino Maamria - Named Dino, so bound to prove a worthwhile asset.

Keigan Parker - Half-inched from Blackpool to COlin Hendry's dismay.

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There's nothing like a good season

And this was nothing like a good season. Still, playoff football was clinched on the final day of the regular season and promotion duly followed. Clough couldn't have been any less impressed. The fans player of the year, Jon Otsemobor was singled out for criticism in the press and almost every member of the promotion winning squad was transfer listed. It would be a different side entirely that Clough sent in to bat for him in the Championship next year.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | C | Gillingham | | 46 | 31 | 13 | 2 | 63 | 15 | +48 | 106 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | P | Watford | | 46 | 26 | 13 | 7 | 75 | 42 | +33 | 91 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Bristol C | | 46 | 27 | 8 | 11 | 82 | 51 | +31 | 89 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Wolves | | 46 | 24 | 16 | 6 | 55 | 20 | +35 | 88 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | P ***| Hartlepool |*** | 46 | 19 | 15 | 12 | 65 | 41 | +24 | 72 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Blackpool | | 46 | 18 | 16 | 12 | 52 | 36 | +16 | 70 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | MK Dons | | 46 | 17 | 18 | 11 | 53 | 39 | +14 | 69 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Swansea | | 46 | 20 | 9 | 17 | 62 | 64 | -2 | 69 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Bradford City | | 46 | 15 | 21 | 10 | 54 | 48 | +6 | 66 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Swindon | | 46 | 17 | 14 | 15 | 48 | 38 | +10 | 65 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Torquay | | 46 | 18 | 10 | 18 | 54 | 56 | -2 | 64 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Peterborough | | 46 | 17 | 11 | 18 | 50 | 56 | -6 | 62 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Doncaster | | 46 | 16 | 10 | 20 | 59 | 55 | +4 | 58 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Luton | | 46 | 16 | 10 | 20 | 51 | 58 | -7 | 58 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Chesterfield | | 46 | 14 | 15 | 17 | 48 | 48 | 0 | 57 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Bournemouth | | 46 | 13 | 14 | 19 | 45 | 62 | -17 | 53 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Brentford | | 46 | 12 | 15 | 19 | 43 | 57 | -14 | 51 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Boston Utd | | 46 | 12 | 14 | 20 | 38 | 61 | -23 | 50 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Walsall | | 46 | 11 | 15 | 20 | 54 | 68 | -14 | 48 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Oldham | | 46 | 10 | 17 | 19 | 53 | 63 | -10 | 47 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | R | Stockport | | 46 | 9 | 19 | 18 | 35 | 56 | -21 | 46 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | R | Colchester | | 46 | 10 | 15 | 21 | 52 | 72 | -20 | 45 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | R | Oxford | | 46 | 9 | 11 | 26 | 39 | 74 | -35 | 38 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | R | Wycombe | | 46 | 8 | 7 | 31 | 28 | 78 | -50 | 31 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| </pre>

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Hartlepool United Playing Staff -- Season 2006/07

Goalkeepers:

Paul Gerrard - arrived on a free from Nottingham Forest and made the #1 shirt his own when he stole it from Kasey Keller's house.

Kasey Keller - Preston tried to retain Keller, but he opted to come to Hartlepool and compete for the starting spot.

David Knight - Brian brought the youngster in on a season-long loan from Middlesbrough to provide backup to the veterans.

Defenders:

Alton Thelwell - Hull were fed up waiting for the former Tottenham prospect to develop into a star, but as Clough's first choice right back he will get to showcase his talents. £7000 buy.

Gregor Robertson - Gregor cost £4000 from Nottingham Forest a year ago and has developed in the reserves for a season. Now ready to start at left back and try to force his way into the Scotland squad.

Ivar Ingimarsson - Reading allowed the Icelander to leave for £55,000 and Brian was keen to sign him up. Solid, unspectacular, dull. Perfect.

Paul Tierney - Manchester United released the left back a year ago and he'd developed alongside Robertson and others whilst the now-departed ensemble sealed promotion.

Marc Smyth - The former Ayr United player has had a year to develop and is still not quite ready.

Peter Ramage - Newcastle gave up on this kid and Clough's about to do the same.

Ashley Winn - Oldham let Winn go 12 months ago but he has a chance to make it at Hartlepool, if he works hard and curbs his natural flamboyancy.

Brian Barry-Murphy - Dull as dishwater, just the way Brian likes them.

Midfielders:

Alexis Nicolas - Chelsea couldn't see any talent in this Cypriot, but Clough thinks he can. Time will tell.

Constantin Gâlcã - The Romanian left Almería for pastures new, but got lost along the way.

Mark Tinkler - The midfielder is fast becoming Clough's stalwart. Keeps getting hurt though.

Grant Johnson - Johnson is club captain and adapting well to higher divisions as he goes along, even at his age.

Kevin Byers - Kevin hasn't quite managed to make himself indispensible yet.

David Noble - David is a talented player, but needs to stop with the tricks and flicks or he'll put noses out of joint.

Benjamin Collett - Benjamin doesn't seem to have the talent to make it in the professional game. Just because he was on Manchester United's books doesn't mean he's useful.

Craig Conway - Ayr fought to keep this kid and he has the potential to be a good 'un.

Daniel Fox - Clough inherited this kid and hasn't got around to releasing him yet.

Forwards:

Jared Borgetti - The Mexican international forward is just the kind of dependable citizen Clough likes.

Derek Riordan - The hard-working Scotland man has the potential to make an impact. The major summer signing at over a million pounds.

Gianfranco Labarthe Tome - Peru's finest has a chance to be an excellent pro striker.

Kanu - This man has far too much flair to fit in here. £26,000 wasted.

Jason Norville - Trinidad international with more ego than ability.

Gareth Wardlaw - Another signed from Ayr with just a wee chance to be a player.

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Oops, forgot:

Midfielders:

Graeme Hockless - Graeme has looked a real player in the past 12 months and will start the season as Brian's first choice in an attacking midfield role. Always careful to avoid the spectacular.

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The Championship, Year One

You could say it was the perfect season. Hartlepool started out with a run of form and ended with one, but in the middle was a Clough-tastic spell of one win in twenty-five games. Nuno Morais was added from Chelsea and Ecuador star Ivan Kaviedes arrived on a free, but neither were what could be described as impact players. The biggest disappointments wre Kanu, Kaviedes and Borgetti, none of whom produced anything worth of the name "form". Derek Riordan, if anybody, was the star with fourteen goals, whilst left back Paul Tierney was the star performer and Paul Gerrard a very dependable number one. When asked if he was happy with surviving in the Championship, Clough replied: I couldn't care less, when can I get a shot at Derby?

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | C | West Brom | | 46 | 32 | 8 | 6 | 103 | 28 | +75 | 104 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | P | Leicester | | 46 | 24 | 13 | 9 | 80 | 47 | +33 | 85 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | P | Hull | | 46 | 24 | 13 | 9 | 62 | 48 | +14 | 85 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Norwich | | 46 | 22 | 14 | 10 | 68 | 42 | +26 | 80 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Sheff Wed | | 46 | 21 | 10 | 15 | 76 | 62 | +14 | 73 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Burnley | | 46 | 20 | 13 | 13 | 69 | 61 | +8 | 73 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Rotherham | | 46 | 20 | 12 | 14 | 72 | 58 | +14 | 72 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Coventry | | 46 | 21 | 9 | 16 | 74 | 66 | +8 | 72 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Derby | | 46 | 20 | 11 | 15 | 62 | 56 | +6 | 71 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Cardiff | | 46 | 17 | 17 | 12 | 50 | 46 | +4 | 68 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Gillingham | | 46 | 18 | 10 | 18 | 48 | 49 | -1 | 64 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Q.P.R. | | 46 | 15 | 18 | 13 | 63 | 62 | +1 | 63 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Sheff Utd | | 46 | 15 | 16 | 15 | 60 | 54 | +6 | 61 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Stoke | | 46 | 15 | 14 | 17 | 50 | 58 | -8 | 59 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Tranmere | | 46 | 15 | 13 | 18 | 50 | 60 | -10 | 58 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | West Ham | | 46 | 14 | 13 | 19 | 59 | 59 | 0 | 55 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Hartlepool | | 46 | 12 | 15 | 19 | 40 | 55 | -15 | 51 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Plymouth | | 46 | 12 | 14 | 20 | 52 | 70 | -18 | 50 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Millwall | | 46 | 9 | 21 | 16 | 60 | 73 | -13 | 48 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Brighton | | 46 | 10 | 17 | 19 | 54 | 70 | -16 | 47 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Reading | | 46 | 11 | 14 | 21 | 42 | 66 | -24 | 47 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | R | Watford | | 46 | 10 | 14 | 22 | 41 | 60 | -19 | 44 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | R | Crewe | | 46 | 10 | 12 | 24 | 54 | 81 | -27 | 42 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | R | Wigan | | 46 | 4 | 11 | 31 | 32 | 90 | -58 | 23 |

| ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

</pre>

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Cheerio, Cheerio, Cheerio

Neale Cooper's escape from Clough's basement couldn't have come at a worse time. Not only was it the day of Brian's hair appointment, it was also a Thursday, which meant he'd be missing the new episode of ER on the telly. He decided now was time to high tail and leave town, quite an impressive feat in itself for a man of his age.

The new location for Clough was Brighton. The team had recently parted ways with manager David Penney having finished 20th just twelve months after missing out on a playoff spot on goal difference. Having only 21 contracted players at any level could be a possible explanation, but financially the club was much better off than Hartleppol after three years of Clough's totalitarian mismanagement, adding players like Ulises de la Cruz, Jamie Redknapp, Richie Wellens, Marcus Stewart and Joh Harley in the days efore his departure to further cripple the side.

What I'd really like, thought Clough, is an FA Cup.

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Brighton - the players

It wasn't what you could call a well-populated squad. Of the players inherited only eleven were deemed by Clough to be worth keeping in or around the first team. Defenders Martyn Corrigan, Daniel Harding, Danny Cullip, Mark McGarty and Adam El-Abd were spared the ignominy of release, Corrigan, Harding and Cullip looking likely to be starters early in the campaign.

In midfield Darel Russell was denied permission to talk to Blackpool and started in the playmaking central role, with Simon Lappin likely to play most weeks. Brian Gilmour was also kept on-board. The forwards looked solid, Leon Knight and Quincy Owusu Abeyie are cast-iron starters on this team, though the latter, fresh from earning under 21 honours for the Netherlands, is hankering for a move to the big time.

Brian had to move quickly and effectively to replenish his staff. Goalkeeper Andrea Guatelli was recruited from Portsmouth for £300,000 and defenders Gonzalo Rodríguez (£775,000, Villareal) and Gregor Robertson (£16,000, Hartlepool) came in, with Ivar Ingimarsson (£150,000, Hartlepool) and Talal El Karkouri (Free) chosen to anchor the midfield. Dean Whitehead cost £80,000 from Sunderland to compete for a midfield berth and forward Mark Yeates arrived from Tottenham in a £675,000 deal.

That was it. Brian was excited at the opportunity to thoroughly wear a few of these young men out.

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Author's Note: since this portion of the challenge demands only that Clogh captures an FA Cup, it is on that particular competition that I shall focus, with league updates forming only a supporting role.

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QPR v Brighton, FA Cup Round 3, 5/01/08

The waiting was over. After six long months the FA Cup was back and Clough was ready. Or almost ready, if it weren't for his only passable goalie being injured and his top scorer demanding a transfer. Still, the team were a solid ninth in the Championship with an 11-2-13 record. Still, eleven intrepid players stepped forth as the Cup returned:

Ben Roberts started in goals due to the injury to Andrea Guatelli, one of the biggest successes so far this season. Two league games were not great preparation, but needs must.

Martyn Corrigan was the right back of choice. Now aged 30 he'd never really hit the heights he's promised as a youth, but he was a Brighton stalwart and determined as any.

Gregor Robertson made the left back role his own the first time Daniel Harding got hurt. Harding is again unavailable, but wouldn't have played in any case.

Gonzalo Rodríguez and Danny Cullip have been outstanding in defence so far this year for Brian and would take great pride in a clean sheet on this occasion.

Ivar Ingimarsson and Talal El Karkouri have eight goals between them from defensive midfield positions and are key men in the interchange between defence and attack.

Darel Russell has been nothing short of sensational all year and will not think twice before tearing QPR to shreds, given half a chance.

Kevin Byers has been dependable in an attacking midfield role since his £20,000 move from Hartlepool and looks to add to his four goals from thirteen games today.

Dean Whitehead starts in an unfamiliar attacking midfield role with other options, such as five-goal Simon Lappin, not in the best of form. Whitehead arrived late in an £80,000 move from Sunderland and has worked hard for the team.

Quincy Owusu Abeyie has nine goals on the season, but is coming out of contract and wants away. Rumour has Coventry set to swoop and a 75% off £1m deal may be the best Brighton can hope for.

Stephen Heath a striker on loan from Chelsea, Bobby Wood who doesn't really exist, James Biggins a defender on loan from Southampton, Leon Knight, who has jsut extended his contract and the aforementioned Simon Lappin completed the matchday squad, which was deprived by injury only of Guatelli and Harding, with no suspensions.

The stage was set, the hour had come. Brighton marched out to boos and jeers, but this was the FA Cup and anything could happen...

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It was the home side who got out of the gates quickest and Malcolm Christie looked dangerous in the opening exchanges, but no real clear-cut chances emerged and Brighton looked to have ridden out the early storm. Indeed the visitors, urged on by their elderly manager, went close themselves from a corner, but a goalless first half was not unsatisfactory.

For the heavily favoured hosts this was not the scenario they'd envisioned just three weeks after a comfortable 1-1 draw at Brighton. Haydn Zaccaria, much hyped, was playing like a diddy and Ben Roberts didn't seem to be the stiff that they had been led to believe he was.

Ivar Inginmarsson was denied a clean run at goal by virtue of having no discernible pace whatsoever, but on the hour was finally put in with a perfectly weighted pass. He fired straight at the keeper though and the chance was gone. Moments later the first Brighton substitution, two minutes after a frontline shift saw Murphy and Surman replace Christie and Zaccaria for Rangers, introduced Simon Lappin, the Whitehead experiment having failed.

Marc Bircham from 20 yards and a Surman freekick troubled Roberts, but with twenty minutes to play a strong move down the Brighton left saw Lappin square to Abeyie eight yards out and the Dutchman needed no second invitation to slot home the opener.

Wit the Brighton defence looking inpenetrable the home side were running out of ideas. That was until momentum shifted with an injury to Ingimarsson five minutes from time. Byers slotted into midfield with Knight asked to fill his previous slot. It was not ideal, but a killer 90th minute counter attack sealed the tie. Abeyie moved down the right before passing inside to Byers. The Scot took his time and fed the substitute Lappin who calmly passed the ball across Chris Day and into the net.

Moments, which seemed like hours, later the referee brought an end to the contest and Albion had done it. Danny Cullip took the sponsors' champagne, but it had been a true team effort. Clough almost smiled, but then he remembered the exquisite skill involved in the second goal and fined the whole team a week's wages.

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Liverpool v Brighton, FA Cup Round 4, 19/01/08

With El Karkouri potentially blotting his copybook irredeemibly by jetting off on international duty and Ivar Ingimarsson injured it fell to the unheralded duo of Brian Gilmour and Dean Whitehead to hold the team together at New Anfield as Liverpool played host in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. On the plus side the goalkeeper was back, and had played and kept a clean sheet in the one league game since QPR were dismissed, a 1-0 home win over Cardiff, Zalayeta and all. The eleven men who kitted up for action at Liverpool were:

Andrea Guatelli, who has played out of his skin most of the year.

Martyn Corrigan, Gregor Robertson, Gonzalo Rodríguez and Danny Cullip remain our first choice back four.

Dean Whitehead and Brian Gilmour have a lot riding on them. Both have performed utility roles this season and both must be at their best if Clough's side are to avoid humiliation on national TV.

Darel Russell plays despite being in negotiations for a move to Fulham.

Kevin Byers and Simon Lappin resume their partnership behind

Quincy Owusu Abeyie who has eleven goals and a fat new contract to boot.

Stephen Heath, Ben Roberts, James Biggins, Leon Knight and new signing, Jack Watkins, a striker, made up the bench.

The stage was set, the hour had come. Brighton marched out to boos and jeers, but this was the FA Cup and anything could happen...

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A fourth minute Kim Källström goal looked to have ended the game, but Quincy Owusu Abeyie made certain by getting himself sent off after only ten minutes of play. Jack Watkins replaced Lappin, but Diomansy Kamara's goal was followed by a Dimitar Berbatov strike and Brighton's brave, some would say heroic, cup run was at an end.

Three down at the interval, it was hardly worth Brighton showing up for the second period. So they didn't really. Rodríguez still managed to pick up a second yellow and be dismissed, Biggins and Knight came on to play wherever they wanted really. It was an embarrassment, and Clough had a murderous look in his eyes when Don Ouwens made it 4-0 with fifteen minutes to go.

Fortunately Liverpool weren't really trying any more, in fact they probably hadn't been for some time, so the game petered out to a 4-0 mauling. This was going to take some time to live down and the only hope amongst the Brighton fans was that the slide wouldn't turn their successful league season into a relegation battle.

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Defeat was not in Brian's plan. He contemplated suicide, then realised it was the PLAYERS' FAULT!

Some corrective instruction was put in place and next year the LOSERS would not be back. Nor would they be able to walk.

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Everton v Brighton, FA Cup Round 3, 03/01/09

Yet again Clough and his side watched in dismay as the gormless fools drawing the balls for the Third Round of the FA Cup handed Brighton a lengthy road trip to negotiate. Everton lay in wait and with top scorer Leon Knight released by mutual consent over a disciplinary matter the day before (the board were not best pleased at writing off a £3,000,000 asset) the team was verging on disarray.

Players new this year, following an acceptable 17th place finish last time, included the injured Souleymane Camara, Francesco Coco, Gianfranco Labarthe Tome and Ian Westlake. Darel Russell was in the doghouse and Gonzalo Rodríguez out of form. Darren Huckerby was a healthy scratch. That left:

Arni Gautur Arason in goals. The sale of Guatelli to Swindon, without Clough's consent, outraged the manager, but the Icelander is a solid citizen.

Talal El Karkouri was pressed into action as an emergency right back after an injury to Martyn Corrigan.

Quinton Fortune was in at left back after Burnley made offers that couldn't be refused for Gregor Robertson and Ivan Ingimarsson totalling almost £300,000.

Andy Webster and Zatyiah Knight have ousted Cullip and Rodríguez from the team for the time being and start in the heart of defence.

Christian Karembeu at 38 and Nicky Butt were marquee signings and will be expected to hold the midfield together whilst

Nigel Reo-Coker fills the void left by Russell's malcontent.

Kevin Byers remains in situe with

Marco Ferreira playing out his days alongside in support of

Facio Malerba who signed from Juventus, and who's wages are mostly paid out of the bonanza received from Liverpool for Abeyie.

Michael Ricketts, the veteran keeper Ben Roberts, Thordur Gudjonsson, Danny Cullip and former Manchester United prodigy Dong Fangzhuo rounded out a dramatically altered squad.

The stage was set, the hour had come. Brighton marched out to boos and jeers, but this was the FA Cup and anything could happen...

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A tense opening was encouraging for Clough insofar as none of his players were sent off. Everton featured the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips and James McFadden but at half time made their second and third substitutions as manager David Platt looked to find a way past Clough's plucky underdogs, sitting just 17th in the Championship, far worse than at the same stage a year ago.

For all that it was scoreless, Everton were clearly the stronger side and time after time Arason was called into action, admittedly primarily to wave as another shot sailed wide, but just before the hour the inevitable happened as a loose ball in the six yard box was prodded home by Wright-Phillips.

With ten minutes remaining however it was still just that single strike seperating the sides and Clough sensed an opportunity was presenting itself. Not that it materialsied on the pitch though as Everton took a stranglehold of possession, ran out the clock and advanced to the next round. Brighton were out once again.

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December 2009 - Statement of Brighton and Hove Albion Board

It is with regret that we announce the decision of the board to terminate the contract of manager Brian Clough. David Platt is the new manager of the club. We wish Mr Clough all the best in his retirement.

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But Brian wasn't ready to retire, not just yet. Opportunities in management were multiple, with clubs panicking just in time for the transfer window. Derby, Charlton, Leicester, Bristol City, Sunderland, Stevenage, Morecambe, BPA and Hinckley all advertised in the following week, but only one of these tempted Clough.

In rejecting Bristol City Brian was laying all his cards on the table. It was Derby or bust. Without the County job, this was it. Brian Clough was finished.

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With Derby appointing QPR boss David Penney to the top job it was time for Brian to lay it all aside. He retired to a house outside Nottingham and enjoyed three weeks of happiness with his family before he was murdered by Neale Cooper.

The End.

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